The AQI Blues

The AQI Blues

The air tastes like burned rubber and cellophane.

Today is one of those days where as soon as I open my weather app, it tells me the air quality is ‘very unhealthy’, which means that as soon as I step outside, the air will burn my throat raw and my lingering cough will return with the ferocity of a mom looking at the 2 for 1 sale at Bath and Body Works on Christmas. The bad winter ‘air’ has returned to Shanghai for the season.

We’ve a string of bad smog days here in the city, and the AQI (Air Quality Index) has gone up as high as 260. For those who live in places where pollution is not a daily concern, an AQI of 260 is really bad. 0-50 is where you want to be on a good day in Shanghai, 50-150 is where you start reconsidering that bike ride to work. Anything above 200 makes me want to stay at home and lock myself in with my air purifier, mulled wine, and my puppy.

The thing is, we don’t even get the worst of it. There’s been times when the AQI in Beijing has gotten into the 500s. I’ve been to Beijing when the Air Quality hovered around the 300s and after minutes outside it felt like my throat caught fire and my breathers were coming out in gasoline gulps. Honestly, I cannot imagine what a 500 index would feel, but I have a feeling this Shanghai winter is just getting started.

I’m having the kind of lazy Saturday where the smog and the cold weather are giving me the perfect excuse to pull up under my quilt and catch up on my blog and a few other (maybe more exciting?) things I am working on. This morning, I hoisted myself to a spin class (biking to a spin class? not the greatest idea) and then went to pick up mulling spices at the Jiashan Christmas market with C (we didn’t stay for the pierogi or the almond butter, because we’ve just had nachos, or at least I did). Right now, Shanghai is in that kind of weird lull where people haven’t yet left for Christmas, but they are about to, and so there is very little incentive to leave the house, other than to stop by the fake market to pick up gifts for your relatives (‘No no Dad, these are real Yeezys (or is the plural of Yeezy Yeezies?), I’m really making it big in China!’). And so I’m having the lazy kind of Saturday I’ve been meaning to have for a while. So here’s to putting those mulling spices to a good use.

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